As Francisco Lindor scorches, Mets pull back playoff hopes for final stretch

Francisco Lindor Mets
Francisco Lindor is heating up as the Mets try to make one last playoff push.
Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Ask around New York City about the Godfather III and they’ll tell you it’s an unnecessary third leg to a trilogy that could have just concluded with two brilliant films. But a disheveled Michael Corleone, portrayed ever-so-brilliantly by Al Pacino, delivers the line while discussing Joey Zasa’s aggression that always seems to embody the perception surrounding the New York Mets.

“Just when I thought I was out,” he lamented looking like a shell of his former, dapper self, “they pull me back in.”

And so, a disheveled Mets team and their fans that have once again experienced every sort of high and low on the spectrum this season have another reason for hope after a Francisco Lindor trilogy on Sunday night. 

The underperforming superstar shortstop in the first year of his 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets socked three home runs to lift the Amazin’s over the crosstown-rival Yankees.

The night featured everything from an offensive shootout to the benches clearing after Giancarlo Stanton confronted Lindor on the basepaths over a whistling motion the shortstop made toward Gleyber Torres and the Yankees dugout; a dig at the Bronx Bombers allegedly stealing signs and relaying it to their teammates in the batter’s box.

And it ended with the first indelible, signature moment of Lindor’s Mets career as he not only talked the talk that the baseball world has been so accustomed to hearing, but he backed it up by posting just the 15th three-homer game in franchise history and the first of the kind in Subway Series history. The last blast of the night, a solo shot in the eighth off Chad Green, proved to be the game-winner in a 7-6 triumph.

It provided a nice change of pace for a player that had heard more boos than anything this year, coming out for a curtain call in front of a raucous Citi Field.

“I don’t think Mets fans forget things, but it does probably help them to start to believe in me a little bit more,” Lindor said of his night. “When I came out of the dugout, it was special for sure. It was a cool moment in my Met career, especially in the Subway Series.

“It felt like the playoffs, but hot. Usually, in playoff baseball, it’s a little cooler out.”

Lindor’s big night continued a hot streak that is coming at the right time for a team that is hanging onto its playoff hopes for dear life.

Prior to Monday night’s series opener against the St. Louis Cardinals, Lindor boasted a 1.105 OPS  with six home runs and 14 RBI over the first 12 games of September.

With 18 games to play, the Mets were five games back of the Atlanta Braves for the top spot in the NL East — a deficit that would need a 2007-Mets-like collapse from the Braves to overturn — but only three back of the National League’s second Wild Card spot.

The Cincinnati Reds, who currently hold that spot, were 6-12 in their last 18 games. The San Diego Padres, just a game behind them, went 8-19 over their last 27.

A sizable crowd to jump over also includes the Cardinals, who are two games ahead of the Mets, and the Philadelphia Phillies, who hold a half-game edge.

As luck would have it, the Mets’ six games this week come against both St. Louis and Philadelphia; and all of them are at home.

And so begins the process of pulling Mets fans back in, even if just for a few more moments.

Somewhere in an alternate dimension, Michael Corleone sighs.